We have just come through an “Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy” with Pope Francis.  Pope Francis has invited us into a deeper understanding and experience of mercy. So how are we doing? Are we more merciful than we were a year ago? Pope Francis is making some changes which demonstrate that the Church herself is becoming more merciful. It’s now becoming easier for couples to get their marriage annulled; there will be less canonical hoops to jump through.  Also, if someone confesses to an abortion the case doesn’t have to go to the local bishop. The priest hearing the confession is allowed to provide absolution.  I, for one, applaud these changes.  These events are shameful and humiliating enough for those involved. I don’t think it benefits anyone to have that extra level of investigation. In his book “CHURCH OF MERCY” Pope Francis reminds us that the prodigal son returned home “without a word of reproach.”  There was no big interrogation about where he had been, what he had done or whom he had been with and how many times.   It’s interesting to me how, when so many in the church seem to be looking for more justice in these circumstances, Pope Francis is talking about MERCY.  He has dared to suggest that, in some cases, maybe the church has been too strict. Wow! That’s a new and novel approach; especially when the official dialogue from many Catholics often seems to be about the letter of the law and how to tighten the reins in these areas.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe we need more and better education and more accountability in the areas of marriage and family.  These are life and death issues, not to be taken lightly.  However, I wonder if we really know how to be “pro LIFE.”  I think for too long our “go to” strategy has been to try and warn people of the dangers of pre/extra marital sex and the potential eternal consequences of an abortion. We often use the same approach to alternative lifestyles. We tend to lead with guilt and fear. I think part of the problem is that many Christians are more ANTI abortion/divorce/gay than they are PRO life and love.  I encounter many Catholics/Christians who are simply anti everything.  Often we are in a state of shock because we perceive the world around us as anti Christ and we get all defensive because no one seems to care or want to change. We stand in judgement of most everyone and everything and the beauty of mercy is completely lost in this dark and stormy climate. We have focused on darkness rather than light and sometimes unknowingly, in our attempts to set things straight, we become the monster that we’re trying to kill.

As I read the dialogue on Face Book and other social media regarding these issues, it most often seems that we just want well behaved Christians more than we want Christians who are fully alive.   I think St. Iraneus gave us the ultimate pro life statement when he said “the glory of God is man fully alive.” Do we know how to show and tell people what it means to be fully alive and how to be a sign to them of the joy, freedom, peace and happiness that comes from knowing the giver of life?  Perhaps if we focused more on this kind of education then people might be more motivated to resist those choices which often lead to so much sadness and regret. The THEOLOGY OF THE BODY by Pope Saint John Paul II, for example, provides a beautiful life giving treatment of marriage and family matters. I remember being stunned by the depth and beauty of the theology of the body when I studied it in university.  People may not understand the letter of the law but I think most of us intuitively recognize life in all its majesty, wonder and glory when it presents itself in so many different ways.  They will likely follow this “life” wherever it goes.  Conversely, we may know the rules and all the fine points of the law but if we don’t have a Holy Spirit of joy and freedom within us our words will likely fall on deaf ears. I choose to follow Christ not because of clever philosophy or dogma or fear of hell.  I choose this way because some of the most loving, generous, free, brave and happy people I know are Christians. I want to be more like them. Ultimately we need to know how to be kind and respectful to those who are different from us without necessarily condoning their lifestyle choices.


Is this maybe what Pope Francis is trying to accomplish with a year of mercy and his encyclicals THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL and ON LOVE IN THE FAMILY?  I don’t think he’s trying to change the rules as some suspect.  He may however be trying to shift our focus to the light rather than the darkness.   The sins of the flesh are easy to spot and name but sometimes the darkness in our hearts is harder to recognize and easier to justify.  He reminds us of the story of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18: 9-14) and highlights the fact that it’s not necessarily the well behaved who inherit the kingdom. It’s clear that keeping our nose clean doesn’t amount to much if Mercy doesn’t transform our attitude toward others.  It’s also abundantly clear to me, as I read the scriptures, that the people in the church of Jesus day (Pharisees, Sadducees etc) gave Jesus just as much stress as the tax collectors and prostitutes. Jesus had to constantly confront those in the church who were all about power, control and status.  They had nothing but disdain for those outside of their circle.  Does this sound familiar? If you’ve been a part of any church for any length of time you’re likely aware that this wasn’t just a first century problem. It is a trap we all have to be careful to avoid.  In his book MERE CHRISTIANITY, C.S. Lewis described the problem like this:

“The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. There are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the diabolical self. The diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.”

It also may be no accident that pride is numero uno on the list of seven deadly sins. Were our church fathers sending a message when they established this order? The sins of the flesh like lust and gluttony come further down the list.

The remedy, of course, is MERCY.  In CHURCH OF MERCY Pope Francis continues on about the prodigal son

“…and the father, had he forgotten the son? No, never! He sees the son from afar.  He was waiting for him every hour of every day.  The son was always in the father’s heart even though he had left him, even though he had squandered his whole inheritance, his freedom. The father with patience, love, hope and mercy had never for a second stopped thinking about him, and as soon as he sees him still far off he runs out to meet him and embraces him with tenderness, without a word of reproach.”

Mercy, it seems, will always far exceed our expectations of how deep and far it will go. Perhaps the only limits on mercy are our hardened hearts and small-mindedness. Pope Francis tells us that no life is ever hopeless and the father is always waiting, arms wide open, for the prodigal sons and daughters to return. When they come home, this is the kind of great mercy he is asking that we lavish upon those who have fallen down and fallen away.  This is the great mercy which he is asking us to understand and live more deeply in our daily lives.  In the beatitudes, highlighted in this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus proclaims the great reward for our willingness to hear and live Pope Francis’ words:  “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.”


Lazarus Next Door…Luke 16: 19-31…26th Sunday in ordinary time

It was 11:00 PM. I walked into his house and there were dozens of beer cans strewn about.  There were several overflowing ashtrays.  The smell of vomit mingled with the scent of cigarette smoke and stale beer. It was really more like a small half finished shack than a home.  It was February and it was cold because he had run out of fuel for his wood pellet stove.


He had struggled with addiction throughout the twenty years that I had known him.  There were periods of sobriety, as much as one year, but he was never quite able to break free.  When he was sober his family and everyone else who knew him were amazed at how talented he was with his hands – carpentry, auto body and anything else he put his mind to.  He built the gate on our front fence.

Earlier that day he had phoned me and asked me to buy him some beer. He said he had run out and he was starting to feel withdrawal symptoms;  “jones-ing” he called it. This wasn’t the first time he had called with this request and, as I had done several times before, I explained that I would do anything for him except buy him beer.  I would even pick him up right now and drive him to the nearest de-tox center, an hour away, if he wanted.  He didn’t like that answer and he hung up.

He called again at 10:30 that evening.  He was obviously intoxicated; he had obtained some beer somehow. He asked me if I would go to the local Mcdonalds and buy him a “Mighty Angus burger” meal.  My wife and I had just crawled into bed.  I was tired and I just wanted to go to sleep at the end of a long day but I remembered that I told him I would “do anything” for him. Besides, he was on a binge and he may not have eaten for days.   I got dressed and started the truck.  My wife expressed some concern for my safety but she agreed that it was the right thing to do.  As I drove to MacDonald’s I remembered that it was the extraordinary jubilee year of MERCY and Pope Francis’ had talked about engaging the poor when we encounter them rather than just handing them some money and walking away.  I decided I would stay and visit for awhile when I dropped off the food.

He looked quite surprised and perhaps a little suspicious when I asked if I could come in and visit with him. I had to clear some beer cans off the sofa to make some space to sit down.  He started to relax as we talked and laughed about the sit com that was playing on the TV. I also inquired about some of his more recent construction and auto body projects.  I told him how people admired his talent.  Our conversation was light and fun and then, out of nowhere, his face became serious and he said “you’re a hard core Catholic aren’t ya?” After I clarified what he meant by “hard core” he proceeded to ask some point blank questions about all the current hot button issues – abortion, contraception and same sex marriage.    I did my best to respond sensitively and intelligently.  Regardless of the issue, the discussion always seemed to come back around to the affirmation of the incredible God given dignity we have as human beings.  He also belonged to a certain minority so he quizzed me on some of the Catholic Church’s past institutional abuse of his minority and I agreed that some apologies were in order.

There was some silence after he ran out of questions and then he said “you must think I’m just a loser drunk.” I responded “no not really, I think you’ve got some strengths and some weaknesses just like everybody else.”  He asked “you mean you’re not going to judge me and condemn me to hell?” to which I replied “no, because there have been times when my life has come off the rails and fortunately there were people who cared, encouraged me and helped me get back on my feet again.  So I’m just passing on to you that which I have been given.”  More silence and then he changed the topic.  We engaged in some casual conversation for a little while longer and then I went home.

Just recently his mom passed away and he was one of the pall bearers for her funeral.  She and her husband had adopted him as a small child. They were very close.  Prior to his mom’s funeral he had maintained a long stretch of sobriety.  Less than two weeks after his mom’s funeral I was talking with his family and they informed me that he had also passed away.  Shortly after his mom’s funeral he started drinking again and it seems that his body just finally gave out after so much abuse.  He was 47. His family, who are neighbors on our street, asked me to sing at his funeral.  I was honored that they asked. It was a beautiful, hopeful, bittersweet service. Here is a verse and chorus from the song I sang:

Our lives are but a single breath
we flower and we fade.
Yet all our days are in your hands
so we return in love what love has made.

Eye has not seen, ear has not heard
what God has ready for those who love Him.
Spirit of love come give us the mind of Jesus.
Teach us the wisdom of God.

When I read this Sunday’s gospel I immediately thought of him because he was like the poor man Lazarus whose life was filled with suffering and torment.  I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to know him and hopefully, in some small way, he found in me some kindness and compassion.   This Sunday’s gospel also makes it clear that we will need a reference from the poor to get into heaven.  I hope he puts in a good word for me.


A SHATTERING EXPERIENCE ~ Luke 16: 1-13 (25th Sunday in ordinary time)

I’ve read a lot of articles about attendance at church.  There is much debate about whether attendance is growing or shrinking.  In his opening address at the Second Vatican Council, Pope Saint John XXIII said we must “open the windows of the church to the fresh air of the Holy Spirit.”  In the latter years of his papacy, Pope Saint John Paul II proclaimed a “new spring time in the church.”  Fresh air and spring time: I love these images. They speak of something fresh, new and exciting.  The big question is: are we experiencing fresh air and springtime in our churches or were these two saint popes just exaggerating?  Many believe that the situation is dire and something drastic needs to happen to increase attendance.  There is currently a Catholic magazine/blog site called “Crisis” magazine.  The title alone, and the popularity of the magazine, suggests to me that many believe the church is spinning out of control – flat lining, in need of resuscitation – no fresh air and spring time.

In this Sunday’s gospel Jesus shocks us again with another radical statement. He says “the children of this world are shrewder in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”  I believe this statement has some real relevance for our discussion about church attendance.  I have attended the live theater production of “Les Miserables” four times and I will go again if the opportunity arises. The theme and the manner in which it is delivered moves me profoundly every time.  It is truly a life changing experience.  I am always amazed at the capacity crowds that pay handsomely to attend these performances.  I would also put “Cirque du Soleil” in this category.   Yet many of these same people who pack Les Mis and Cirque performances don’t have the time to attend Mass, for free, on Sunday.  Why is that?  Are they just bad people who stubbornly ignore the church? I recently read another article by an author who was bemoaning people who “skip church” on Sunday.

Here, in my opinion, is where the relevance of today’s gospel comes into play.  The cast of Les Mis and Cirque will put in countless hours of rehearsal and preparation before they offer their first performance.  It is a dream come true for many of these performers to be on stage and they give 110% every night. They exude passion, dedication and professionalism.   This is in stark contrast to the music I often hear in MOST of our Catholic churches.  It is painfully obvious in most cases that very little, if any, practice has occurred.  The musicians often appear as though they are just getting the job done without too much concern for what impact they may, or may not have, on their listeners. I find it ironic how we offer up subpar music and then cry in our pillows about how our young people will not attend church. This is precisely where I believe the “children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light” In other words, theater companies and their performers are much better at capturing the imagination of the general public than most of those who lead liturgical music.  I would also argue that famous actors and rock stars are much better at capturing the imagination of our youth than the church is.  Yes, their message often contradicts faith and morals but at least they know how to get young people’s attention.  They seem to understand the human spirit better than us in the church and they are more adept at getting inside people’s heads and hearts.  I think we “the children of light” could learn from the way these “children of the world” deal with their own generation.

In “feast of faith” Pope Benedict reports that Saint Augustine “had come to appreciate Christianity as a philosophy but was uneasy about the church herself.” In the end it was, in Augustine’s words, “the singing church which gave him a shattering experience, penetrating the whole man, and which led him forward on the way to the church.”  It was obviously an experience of extreme beauty and grace that pierced him to the core. Ok now let’s ask ourselves: when was the last time that we have had “a shattering experience, penetrating the whole man” as a result of music we have heard in church?  When was the last time the music really moved us and led us to deeper conviction in our faith?


I must clarify here that I am not advocating any particular style of music.  It is more the manner and the conviction with which it is presented.  Gregorian chant sung poorly will benefit nobody and may even scare people away.  However, Gregorian chant well executed is truly a “shattering experience.” The same is true for other styles of music.  Also, church attendance is a very complex matter and there are as many reasons for attending, or not attending, as there are people.  There are many other dynamics involved in this discussion and when it comes to people’s motives I would like to echo Pope Francis and say “Who am I to judge?”

However, based on Jesus’ words about the children of this world dealing with their own generation, I think we could learn something about the way “they” are able to capture people’s attention, get “their” message across and shape people’s minds and hearts.  Conversely, we “the children of light” seem to engage in endless heated debate about whether we should receive communion on the tongue or on the hand and various other fine points of liturgy.  In social media and other arenas I hear lots of Catholics pontificating about the evils of this world and that church attendance would improve if only people would just straighten up and fly right.  What if we loosened our grip on some of the hot button issues (abortion, contraception, same sex marriage) for just a moment and strived instead to demonstrate the true freedom/joy/hope/peace/beauty that the gospel offers?  I believe this is part of what Pope Francis is trying to teach us during this extraordinary jubilee year of MERCY:  stop judging and condemning those who don’t think and act exactly like you do; stop being so tribal and really learn how to love your neighbor regardless of who he/she is. Our newest saint, St. Teresa of Calcutta, was a shining star in this regard.

St. Augustine shows us that people are longing for a deep and meaningful experience of faith and a community of believers that are authentic and genuine. For my part, as a music minister, I will continue to play with passion, dedication and professionalism, aware of the potential the music has to penetrate the whole person and lead people forward on the way to the church.  What would happen if we all played our part with deeper passion and conviction whether we are a music minister, Eucharistic minister, lector or usher (even when we’re going through the checkout line at the grocery store – don’t forget to smile)? Perhaps we would become shrewder at dealing with our own generation.  Perhaps we would experience the fresh air and spring time in our church that we have been promised and that we all long for.

NO PAIN NO GAIN ~ Luke 14: 25-33


We are all familiar with the cliche “No pain, no gain” and I think most of us get it.  It makes perfect sense that a professional athlete will make many sacrifices and work hard every day if she is going to compete to win.  Frequently the athlete will push his abilities out to the limits of human endurance. Often the athlete will feel like it’s more than she can handle and she will want to give up. However, many of us are confused and even shocked when we hear the following words from this Sunday’s gospel: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”  The radical meter seems to red line when Jesus says “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus, what could you possibly mean by this??? Surely you don’t want me to hate my family. I believe when Jesus says these things he is trying to teach us the “no pain, no gain” concept on a spiritual level.  If we choose to follow Christ there will be difficult decisions, sacrifices and hard work every day. Our fallen nature bids for a life immersed in comfort, pleasure and security while our born again baptized soul longs to transcend creature comforts and enter into true and lasting peace and happiness.  An event from the life of St. Francis of Assisi helps to illustrate this point.

At the end of some days spent in prayer and fasting, Francis reemerged back into society, but he was so disfigured and poorly dressed that the people would make fun of him as if he was a crazy person. Very taken aback by the behavior of his son, Pedro Bernardone, a wealthy clothing merchant, took him home, beat him furiously (Francis was 25 years old) and locked him up in a bedroom. Francis’ mother made sure to set him free when her husband was away and, that way, Francis was able to return to San Damiano. His father went again after him, hit him on the head, and threatened him that if he did not return immediately to his house then he would have to renounce all of his inheritance and pay him the money from the clothing he had taken. Francis did not have any difficulty renouncing his inheritance, but he told his father that the money from the clothing belonged to God and the poor. His father forced him to appear before Bishop Guido of Assisi who exhorted the young man to return the money and to trust in God, “God does not desire that His Church enjoy goods that were acquired unjustly.” Francis obeyed the bishop’s order to the letter and added, “The clothing that I am wearing also belongs to my father and so I have to return it to him.” At once he took off his clothes and handed them over to his father, telling him joyfully, “Up to now you have been my father on earth. But from now on I could say, ‘Our Father, who art in Heaven’.” Pedro Bernardone left the Episcopal palace “trembling from indignation and profoundly wounded.”

In this instance Francis had to choose between his own Father and his commitment to follow Christ.  Jesus desires that we love our family members deeply but there may be those rare and unfortunate circumstances where we are forced to choose between faith and family like Francis was. This is one example of what Jesus means when he says “If anyone comes to me without hating his father…he cannot be my disciple.”

Recently I was downtown running some errands when I was approached by a stranger who asked for money for coffee.  I don’t normally give money to strangers because often they will spend it on their addiction.  However, I told the stranger I would buy him a coffee at a nearby coffee shop.  I also felt compelled to go beyond just purchasing the coffee for him and take some time to visit with him. I was keenly aware that, if he accepted my offer, my schedule would be disrupted and I would probably have to finish running errands the next day. There was an interior battle between my desire to respond to the stranger’s needs and my desire to hold on to my own agenda. This example reminds me that I need to hold on loosely to my plans and my desires and always be ready and willing to pick up my cross and make sacrifices like the athlete who is competing for the prize.

Monks and mystics describe this process of self denial as asceticism.  As with other spiritual disciplines such as meditation, asceticism may be viewed as beyond the reach of those of us who live in the hustle and bustle of daily secular life. However, the gospels and the church encourage us to take this discipline seriously no matter what our state in life. It’s also important to keep in mind that asceticism is not an end in itself.  I think this gospel passage is often misunderstood.  I’ve met many Christians who are joyless and they seem to believe self denigration is the only path to holiness.  They seem to interpret Jesus words “If anyone comes to me without hating…his own life he cannot be my disciple” quite literally.  They live in a black and white world where this life is the “valley of tears” and if we get to heaven that will be the only place where there is any kind of happiness.  Yes, the goal is to be happy forever in heaven but I believe we get a taste of it down here.  Pope Francis stated this loud and clear in his first encyclical “the JOY of the gospel.” St. Theresa of Avila also prayed “from silly devotions and dour faced saints spare me O Lord.” It is a strange paradox that our lives grow in peace and joy as we learn to die to self. True ongoing conversion leads to increasing inner freedom and joy that is contagious.

As I sat down to write this blog I noticed what a beautiful warm sunny August day it was. Something inside beckoned me to put off writing and go outside and enjoy the sunshine.  I had to pick up my cross and follow. For the committed Christian “no pain, no gain” becomes “no cross, no crown.” Through faith and prayer we will have eyes to see that many choices we make every day present an opportunity to die to self and rise to new life.


Today’s gospel is all about being ready for the master’s return.  Will Jesus return in all his glory before the end of our lives?  We don’t know the day or the hour but we do know that our lives will end and that it’s important to be prepared for this event – to keep our lamps trimmed and burning.  I once saw a bumper sticker that said “look busy Jesus is coming.” Is this how we prepare?  I think it goes deeper than endless toil in good works, as important as they are.


The foolish virgins found that they didn’t have enough oil to keep their lamps burning.  If we focus solely on doing good works all the time we may exhaust ourselves – run out of oil – before the master comes.  We need to somehow replenish the supply so that we can keep on giving.  I meditate on sacred scripture almost every day.  The insights I gain are always enriching for my soul.  They often fill me with hope, peace and joy.  This is truly food for the journey.  The sacraments, especially the Eucharist, are also essential soul food.  We will not know, until everything is revealed, the extent of the healing, grace and miracles that the regular reception of the body and blood has worked in our lives. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are an important foundation for spiritual growth.  It is hard for my soul to live when my body is falling apart.  Taking care of our self helps us to take care of others. Maintaining healthy relationships, especially with my wife and family, is a priority.  No one survives this journey alone. Community-communion-with one another is indispensible. I also think some form of regular re-creation/relaxation is necessary.  These are elements which can help us continue to live generously and joyfully in the midst of so much fear, anxiety and hopelessness. Each one of us needs to find ways to recharge and revive our souls daily and allow God’s grace and mercy to flow in if we are going to keep it flowing out to others. This is the oil which keeps our lamps shining brightly until the master comes.

Jesus will also come to us on a daily basis in unexpected ways.  If we are focused only on judgement at the end of our lives, or his second coming, we may miss these small ordinary encounters.  Are we thankful when we get an unexpected visit from a family member or friend whom we haven’t seen for a while? Do we experience awe and wonder for the beauty of the created all around us?  Do we feel genuine gratitude for the basic gifts of food, clothing and shelter? Are we able to respond with confidence and love when we encounter a neighbor or a stranger in need? Mother Theresa said that, in the poor, she encountered Jesus in a “distressing disguise.” These encounters will seem burdensome and even annoying if we haven’t first opened our hearts to the abundant joy, peace and freedom of the risen Christ. If, however, we are able to recognize grace in the daily rhythms of our life we will be prepared for the apocalypse when our heart stops beating or when Jesus comes again in all his glory and we will go out to meet the master with our lamps trimmed and burning. Parish Missions, Conferences, Retreats, Youth Events


Pope Francis on the prodigal son

“He goes off, spends everything, hits rock bottom where he could not be more distant from the father.  Yet when he is at his lowest he misses the warmth of the father’s house and he goes back. And the father, had he forgotten the son? No, never. He is there, he sees the son from afar; he was waiting for him every hour of the day.  The son was always in the father’s heart even though the son had left him, even though he had squandered his whole inheritance, his freedom.  The father with patience, love, hope and mercy had never for a second stopped thinking about him, and as soon as he sees him still far off, he runs out to meet him and embrace him with tenderness, the tenderness of God, without a word of reproach: his son has returned! And that is the joy of the father.  In that embrace for his son is all this joy: he has returned! God is always waiting for us; he never grows tired”

From:  Church of Mercy: a collection of homilies by Pope Francis

father and son embracing

The EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY begins December 8, 2016  Parish missions, conferences, retreats and youth events

Whether you have grown up in the church, or you are new to the faith, or even just curious about Christianity, Harley offers something for everyone. 


Recent statistics tell us that 20% of people suffer with some form of anxiety.  Over 40 million North Americans suffer with some form of addiction.  Our generation is one of the most stressed out, fearful and frantic in all of history. The good news is that many have found freedom from debilitating fear and anxiety, hopelessness, even compulsive/addictive behavior when they gained an understanding of how our thoughts affect our feelings and behavior.  In other words, when we change the way we think about certain things it will change the way we feel and the way we act.

Authentic change then requires a paradigm shift.  Stephen Covey, the author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” used the term “paradigm shift” to describe a radical change in perspective.  He offers an example from his own personal experience:  One day while he was riding the subway a father and his three children got on at one of the stops.  Mr. Covey grew increasingly frustrated as the children grew increasingly loud and disruptive while their father seemed to be oblivious to their behavior.  Finally Mr. Covey lost his patience and asked the father if he would do something about the situation.  The father looked up with a blank stare and said “I’m sorry we just came from the hospital where their mother died, they don’t know how to handle this and neither do I.”  In an instant Mr. Covey’s perspective shifted from frustration to compassion and he just wanted to know if there was something he could do to help.  He notes how the sudden change in his perspective dramatically changed the way he felt and the way he acted towards the father and his children.

The paradigm shift is not a new concept.  The psalmist from the old testament tells us that “as a man thinks in his heart, then so shall it be” and again St. Paul in the new testament tells us that we can “be transformed by the renewal of our mind.” Most people of average intelligence have the capacity to shift their perspective at will but they don’t know how to develop and use this skill.

Imagination is the other key to this process.  Albert Einstein said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”   This means that anything and everything we have is first conceived in our mind and then we birth it into reality.  For example, over 100 years ago Orville and Wilbur Wright simply had a dream that we could fly.  People told them they were crazy but they persevered and eventually their dream became a reality; now we have airplanes.  So how does this apply to behavior and attitude? I’m so glad you asked.  If in our mind’s eye we can begin to see a better life for our self, despite our current circumstances and if we can believe that we deserve a better life, despite how we feel, the chances of changing our life increase dramatically.  This is not as mystical as it may sound.  Have you ever had a daydream – you’re at your desk at work but your mind is on the beach in Mexico.  That is the power of imagination.  We all have it but we rarely use it to our benefit

So, if you are feeling hopeless and helpless as your life spins out of control take courage.  There are those who have risen from the ashes of despair to a whole new level of freedom and happiness.  They were able to re-write the script of their life; shift to a paradigm of success.   With a little imagination they turned a life of fear and drudgery into a voyage of discovery.  Their dreams literally took flight.  They dared to believe and found that the heart of life is indeed good.  They dared to believe and some even found that the author of life has already written their story…………with a happy ending.